2016 MINI Countryman Review


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2016 MINI Countryman Overview

Those wanting to display their uniqueness will doubtless flock once again to their local MINI Cooper dealership this autumn for a look at the 2016 MINI Countryman. Of course, the MINI Cooper brand isn’t as distinctive as it once was, with the Cooper having haunted highways here in the U.S. since the early 2000’s. And as a thoroughly mainstream corporate response to consumer whims, the Countryman is BMW-owned MINI’s challenge to such 5-passenger compact wagons and crossovers as Ford’s techno-savvy Escape, Mazda’s roomy-yet-sporty CX-5, and Nissan’s more affordable Juke. But familiar as it may be, the MINI Cooper lineup in general--and the Countryman in particular--is still a quirky-but-practical alternative to the more staid offerings that fill out this corner of the auto market.

In any case, look for the 2016 MINI Countryman to return in 4 iterations: the entry-level Base, the up-featured and turbocharged S, the all-wheel-drive (AWD) S ALL4, and the flagship (also with AWD) John Cooper Works (JCW).

The MINI Countryman stable went through a minor refresh for 2015, and is scheduled to sport a few additional garnishes for the upcoming model year. The brand new MINI Countryman Park Lane sub-trim, available to spiff up the S and S ALL4 variants for 2016, will offer a number of unique exterior colors, trim pieces, graphics, and badges. And debuting safety features are slated to include a head-up display, collision and pedestrian warnings, a new speed-limit information system, and parking assistance technology.

No changes to the powerplant choices are expected for 2016, leaving both normally aspirated and turbocharged inline 4-cylinder (I4) engines available for specific Countryman trims. The base trim will therefore retain the traditional non-turbocharged 121-hp 1.6-liter I4, mated with either the standard 6-speed manual transmission or an available 6-speed shiftable automatic transmission. Look for 114 lb-ft of torque from this admittedly anemic drivetrain, with mileage expected to be again estimated at an impressive 27 mpg city/34 highway/30 combined in stick-shift-toting iterations, and 25/30/27 in automatic-packing versions.

The 2016 Countryman S and its traction-boosted S ALL4 sibling will both keep a turbocharged 1.6-liter I4, also with either the 6-speed manual shifter or the 6-speed shiftable automatic. Expect 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque from this force-fed powertrain, while mileage figures return at 26/32/29 in the FWD S with the stick-shift, 25/32/28 in the automatic-toting FWD S, 25/31/27 in the stick-shift-loaded S ALL4, and 23/30/26 in the S ALL4 with the shiftable automatic.

The top-shelf Countryman JCW, meanwhile, also totes the turbocharged 1.6-liter I4, but with a few tweaks that bump the grunt factor up to 208 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque, with the same choice of either the 6-speed manual gearbox or the 6-speed shiftable automatic. Mileage numbers for the up-ponied and AWD-only JCW still mirror those of its S ALL4 sibling.

Standard appearance features aboard the 2016 Countryman are again slated to include 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels, heated exterior mirrors, and a roof rack, with improved exterior trim options as you move towards the higher trims.

Inside, depending on the selected trim, look for such standard equipment as power windows and door locks, leatherette upholstery, a cooled storage compartment, cruise control, telescoping tilt-wheel steering, and automatic climate control. Upgraded equipment that comes standard in higher trims includes sport front seats, cloth upholstery, and a rear spoiler, with the JCW also boasting a standard sport-tuned suspension.

The techno-goodies slated to return in the various 2016 Countryman trims include Bluetooth hands-free calling and a single-CD player boasting 6 speakers, HD Radio, and an auxiliary audio input.

Optional equipment available to lower 2016 Countryman editions include a number of bells and whistles that come standard aboard higher trims, along with the Park Lane sub-trim that will be available to the S and S ALL4 iterations. Other returning trim-specific options in this ultra-customizable wagon include almost unlimited exterior and interior badges, graphics, and color combinations, as well as upgraded and up-sized wheels, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, and satellite radio. Available at an extra cost are heated front seats, rear parking sensors, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, as well as a 10-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio upgrade. Cooper’s MINI Connected package is also scheduled to return with a 6.5-inch infotainment display interfaced with a BMW-inspired console-mounted joystick, smartphone apps, and, for even more money, a GPS navigation system.

Altogether, the 2016 Countryman is pretty well packed with perks. But you pay a premium for said perks, and cargo area returns at a somewhat cramped 42.4 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded.

Standard safety features for the 2016 Countryman lineup (other than the new features mentioned above) are expected to include 4-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, front and rear head curtain airbags, daytime running lights, and a post-collision safety system. The Countryman S will again boast standard dynamic traction control, with the S and higher trims also toting standard front fog/driving lights. Adaptive xenon headlights remain optional for all 2016 iterations.

No government testing data is available for the current Countryman. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, however, gives this distinctive wagon its highest rating of Good overall.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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